Chapter

Esthétique Du Mal

Kenneth Gross

in Shylock Is Shakespeare

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780226309774
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226309927 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226309927.003.0013
Esthétique Du Mal

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This chapter explores the following question: Does The Merchant of Venice point to an anti-Semitic or anti-Judaic impulse, a distorting prejudice against Jewish tradition, that stands inescapably at the heart of Christianity, especially the tradition of Christian thought that is shaped by the writings of Saint Paul? It argues that the dramatic shapes of the play, its structures of mirroring and projection, equally illuminate more modern accounts of anti-Semitic hatred, in particular, the idea that the insidious, secret, and rootless power and malice attributed to Jews are in fact rationalizing projections of qualities in the anti-Semite himself, a mirror of his fear of things idiosyncratic, unaligned, and difficult to assimilate. This hidden work of projection is one reason why the dangerous Jew of European anti-Semitism combines in himself aspects at once archaic and sophisticated, irrational and hyperrational.

Keywords: The Merchant of Venice; European anti-Semitism; anti-Semite; prejudice; Jews; Christianity; projection

Chapter.  5206 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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